BagMask.com 2019 Anesthesia Scholarship Winner

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We’re pleased to announce that our scholarship committee has selected the winner of the 2019 BagMask.com Scholarship! There were many impressive applicants with a total of 97 submissions this year. Applicants had to write a response to one or both of the statements/questions below in 500 words or less:

1.Give one example of when you experienced the power of working as a team (does not have to be a medical team) and how you were able to produce a superior outcome working together than would have been possible with each individual working independently.

2.How would you use collaboration to improve your team or work environment to ensure your patients receive optimal care?

We would like to thank Jackie Hyland MD, Todd Decuir CRNA and Daniel Mesaros CAA for volunteering their time to judge the essays.

This year’s $5,000 Anesthesia Scholarship winner is Austin Peik SRNA. Austin is enrolled at Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia in Pasadena, California and is scheduled to graduate in April of 2021.

Austin’s Essay:

“Keep her balanced!” Kevin yelled as I jumped on the right outrigger to prevent our boat from capsizing. My two friends and I were far off the coast of Tanzania, sailing 330 miles northeast to the finish line at the northern tip of Zanzibar. Eight days, three friends, and one boat constructed from a carved-out mango tree with a glorified bedsheet as a sail; welcome to the Kraken Cup.

BagmaskAnesthesiaScholarship2019Winner

The biannual open-ocean adventure race raises money to prevent Amazonian deforestation and attracts teams of avid sailors from around the world. “Avid” is not a word I would use to describe my team’s sailing history. Our experience consisted of a weekend sailing class in the San Francisco Bay and the occasional practice on a keelboat from the sailing club. Additionally, practicing sailing on a modern keelboat and then transitioning to a Ngalawa boat is comparable to performing anesthesia on the latest Datex-Ohmeda with a vaporizer of Sevoflurane and then being given only a bottle of ether and a mask for the next case. The concepts of sailing are the same, but these ancient boats are anything but watertight. They rely entirely on the quality of the tied knots to hold them together and can capsize if the team’s weight is not evenly distributed.

To reach the finish, a cohesive three-person team is required, with each member having a vital role. Kevin, an Eagle Scout, was our navigator. Kurtis, a mechanical engineer, was at the helm and assisted in repairs. As for myself, the ability to provide anesthesia at a moment’s notice did not seem applicable in this situation, so I was head of morale-boosting, top medical consultant, and chief boat balancer when the waters became rough.

Although we were hundreds of miles from the nearest operating room, I found myself drawing on skills that are critical in the field of anesthesia and applying them to our team dynamic. This was especially true in the most unpredictable of situations, including a flash storm that flooded our boat and broke our rudder in the open ocean. I am no stranger to the bitter taste of humble pie, and Mother Nature can serve it at the most inconvenient times. While we lacked experience, we relied on open communication and worked to recognize each of our strengths and weaknesses. Further, as any reader with anesthesia experience can attest, the best providers are vigilant; this was evidenced by our effort to identify and prevent potential problems before they arose.

Regardless of any unanticipated predicaments we faced, it was our open communication, proactive approach, and recognition of our strengths and weaknesses that allowed us to persevere and achieve a smooth emergence at the finish on the final day of the race. Our only residual complications? There was post-race nausea and vomiting, as well as some muscle soreness. These, however, were issues I predicted and was confident I could help treat. After all, part of my integral role was maintaining the health of my teammates.

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